After a dry winter, the rainy season is knocking at the door for most of the interior. Unfortunately, for bikers, the wet roads bring a host of additional risks – especially when the first rain of the season falls.
Seasoned riders know just how slippery the roads can be when the first shower lifts all the grime and oil that had accumulated on the road surface during the dry months.
Avoid the carnage
Maanda Tshifularo, head of insurance brand Dialdirect, cautions that the rainy season safety will take a proactive effort from all South African road users to avoid carnage on our roads. "Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable because they aren’t protected by a vehicle frame and are more exposed to the elements."
Wayne Minnaar, spokesperson for the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department concurs: “There is an increase in accidents when the rainy weather starts. This is attributed to wet roads, poor visibility and failure by road users to adjust their driving to the wet weather conditions.”
According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation, poor visibility and wet or slippery road surfaces contributed to more than 27% of the 10 564 fatal crashes on South African roads in 2018, with environmental factors being the second leading cause of accidents after human error.
Here are 10 wet weather riding tips offered by Dialdirect:
1. Make a conscious effort to adjust your speed and following distance, because your bike needs more distance to stop on wet roads.
2. Remember that the build-up of fog on the insides of car windows dramatically reduces the drivers’ vision, as do water droplets on the side windows. When riding next to a car, bear in mind that this effectively increases the size of the driver’s blind spot.
3. Check that you have sufficient tread on your tyres to minimise the chances of your bike’s wheels aquaplaning. Although the South African legal limit is a minimum of 1mm of tyre tread, anything below 3 mm can greatly increase the risk of aquaplaning.
4. Where possible, avoid riding through puddles of water – when the road is wet, it is almost impossible to tell of the puddle is hiding a pothole.
5. If you hit a large patch of water, do not try to brake or swerve suddenly. Stay calm, keep your throttle open and concentrate on steering your bike. If you have to turn, do so as gently as possible.
6. Avoid abrupt acceleration, braking and steering movements. Sudden stops and turns may result in skidding.
7. Be wary painted road markings, metal grids and oily patches on the road – these tend to become extremely slippery in the wet.
8. Cloudy and rainy weather makes for poor visibility, so take extra care when passing other vehicles. Spray from other vehicles also reduces visibility considerably.
9. Whenever possible, wear a rain suit in wet weather – being wet, cold and miserable makes it harder to fully concentrate on riding in already challenging conditions.
10. If you ride into a shower and stop to either don your rain suit or wait out the rain, make sure you do so in a safe place. Pull as far off the road as possible and turn on your hazard lights (or leave your lights on if your bike doesn’t have hazard lights) to ensure that your bike visible to the other traffic.
"We urge motorcyclists to take extra precautions when driving in the wet and to remember the ATGATT rule: all the gear, all the time. And, if the unforeseen does happen, it’s wise to ensure that you have adequate insurance in place," Tshifularo concludes.